[MUD-Dev] People were talking about resets..

David B. Held dheld at codelogicconsulting.com
Wed May 15 12:29:56 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: "Anderson, David" <david.anderson at tfp.com>

> I was thinking a lot more on this earlier & decided that the food
> was probably the best way to go.

I think food should be a central part of any ecology simulation,
since food is basically what runs life.  However, I do not think it
is enough to tweak populations through food.  For a truly realistic
ecology, you simply need to take away the motivation to kill
everything in sight.  Only the lowest level players should kill
"natural" mobs for experience.  The rest should kill them for food,
and not need to kill so often that areas get completely hunted out.

For great plausibility, players should mostly attack sentient
creatures for experience, since sentient creatures are realistically
the only ones that could put up a varied defense (or offense).  Of
course, you still have the problem of population control.  How could
that be dealt with?  How about this: what if people didn't *have* to
kill something to gain experience?  What if people got experience
from just inflicting a lot of hurt, and sentient mobs could flee
when they started to get injured badly?  There might still be times
when you wish to pursue a mob and kill it, but perhaps one of the
drawbacks of many MUDs is the emphasis on death, and not battle.
The reason so many problems with population exist is because there
is the constant irreversibility of death.

So say you have an area with trolls, which are tough to fight.  You
could implement rules that say that if the enemy flees you, you get
a certain amount of experience, in addition to whatever you gain
from scoring good hits on him.  If you flee the enemy, you just get
a small penalty, but not so much as to wipe out experience gained
from giving him a good beating.  Now, the immediate objection is:
the player will just run away, heal, come back, and destroy the mob,
who is now weakened.  This is true.  To address this, you need to do
two things: After a battle is over, make the injured mob seek
healing.  Whether that's in a safe room for that mob type, or
seeking out a healer mob of that race doesn't really matter.  The
mob has to take some of the same self-preservation steps that the
human players do.  And programming mobs to return to a heal point
can't be that difficult.  If you really wanted to be wicked, you
could make tougher mobs carry around recall scrolls and let them
just teleport back "home".

However, by allowing non-fatal battles to result in experience, you
alleviate the population problem by simply making mobs difficult to
kill (or making players easier to kill by the mobs).  Note that you
need to make experience dependent upon the amount of damage
inflicted.  That way, if a punk player runs up to a powerful mob,
takes a swipe and runs away, he doesn't get any reward for his
cowardice.  In real battles, plenty of people die, and it should be
no different in MUDs.  But in real battles many people survive too,
but are simply injured.  While this is true for players, it is not
for NPCs.  Adding this might make MUDs both more plausible, and more

What would be really interesting is if NPCs gained experience.  And
also, if NPCs could have a limited memory of say, the 4 people who
inflicted the most damage on them.  Then, NPCs could recruit other
NPCs of the same race, based on their experience, and hunt down
their enemies or arch-nemeses.  Hunting would surely be difficult,
as players can often move about a MUD with impunity, but here's yet
another idea that probably wouldn't be too difficult.

As mobs are mobiling, they could "trade war stories".  That is, each
mob would store a short list of the most powerful players they have
encountered, and some score of how powerful that player is, based on
how much damage it inflicted on the mob.  When a mob enters a room
with another mob or mobs, the mobs would all compare enemy lists and
their own XP to see who has the "worst enemies".  So a hero-type NPC
that has managed to fight a lot of people and survive would gain a
lot of XP, and have a list of fairly tough players (presumably).  It
would enter a room of lesser mobs, and they would compare notes.
The lesser mobs would have met some powerful players and the big mob
would have met some.  However, the big mob's XP wins any ties or
close calls.  So let's say our mob-hero has a list like so:

  Thangor, 40
  Frodo, 27
  Bilbo, 35
  Aragorn, 56

And let's say a lesser mob has a short list, like so:

  Wuss, 5
  Punk, 28
  Arwen, 37

So even though Punk has a higher score than Frodo, the big mob's
higher XP trumps it, and they synchronize their enemy lists like so:

  Thangor, 40
  Bilbo, 35
  Aragorn, 56
  Arwen, 37

Now, both the mobs have a good idea of who needs a good
challenge. ;) Furthermore, if a mob's XP is sufficiently higher than
another mob, it may become a leader, and the lower mob will group
with and follow it.  That way, a leader mob can carry around an
entourage on the lookout for powerful players, even if it doesn't
hunt them down specifically.  To prevent a giant mob mob that hunts
down the four toughest players, you could have a rule that if two
leader mobs meet, they will try to *differentiate* their lists,
rather than make them similar.  That way, different leaders will go
after different groups.  And their followers will stick with whoever
they followed first.  Also, there could be a limit on the size of
the group.  Like, a mob could only have XP / 300 followers, say, if
mob XP typically ranged from 0 to 5,000.

One of the main problems I see in MUDs is that players are generally
more skilled and better equipped than most mobs in 1-on-1 battle,
and to compensate, mobs are made insanely tough (jack up HP,
hit/dam, etc.).  What if, instead, mobs picked up whatever armor
happened to be laying around, and put it on if it they can and if it
is better than the armor that they are wearing?  Then when a mob
kills you, it also takes your stuff. ;) And then it just got
personal. ;) Of course, if the mob is better equipped than you, it
might just leave it there as junk.  Or, lesser mobs might scramble
for it.

Using these concepts, the world would automatically get harder for
higher-level players, because essentially, there would be a bounty
on their heads by sentient mobs.  And unless they want to take on a
group of 10 very angry, very tough mobs that have been wandering the
MUD looking for them, they might want to form groups of their own,
just for personal safety.

Well, I said a lot more than I intended to, but maybe someone will
take something useful from the ideas.


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